God's Existence, Science and Faith, Suffering and Evil, Jesus' Resurrection, and Book Reviews

More Than Water Is Required for Life

A New Habitable Zone Discovered

The other day I saw an interesting article posted on PHYS.org entitled "More To Life Than The Habitable Zone." The "Habitable Zone" is the area around a star where a planet may exist with water in all three states. This is crucial for life's existence. In the article the team of scientists studying a particular star for habitable planets recognizes that the zone where water can exist is not the only area that limits where a life-destined planet may be found. The scientists explain that another factor that further limits that "habitable zone" is the amount of ultraviolet radiation emitted from the host star. Similar to the water habitable zone, the UV habitable zone is the area where the UV radiation is within the maximum and minimum bounds that permits life to exist. Both zones are necessary, so the only area where life can exist is the area where the two zones overlap each other. This area is so tiny that the team of scientists conclude that while a large portion of stars (red dwarfs) scientists have been investigating for habitable worlds are not completely off the table, it would be more prudent for scientists to focus efforts on the relatively few stars that more closely match our sun. Such a star would allow, presumably, for a larger overlapping area of the water habitable zone and the UV habitable zone.

Narrowing the Options

Astrophysicist Dr. Hugh Ross of Reasons to Believe describes these two habitable zones in his latest book "Improbable Planet: How Earth Became Humanity's Home." He also describes three other habitable zones that have been discovered. Not only is earth located in the water habitable zone and the UV habitable zone, but zones for photosynthesis, ozone, and tides also exist. This means that not only must the water and UV zones overlap, these other three must overlap as well. The only areas where overlap of all five exists are where a planet must exist around its host star to be a candidate for life.

A quick internet search reveals that red dwarfs make up roughly 70% of the stars in the universe. If the team of astrobiologists are saying that the recognition of just one more habitable zone limits the candidate sites in the universe (practically rules out an entire class of stars) by 70%, then how much more will the recognition of these extra three zones limit the possible locations for life? Even though research is revealing a more precise target for where life can exist (thus focusing expensive research time and resources), the number of physical locations available for life to originate are being dramatically reduced. While the universe is huge and scientists already recognize that the majority of it is not viable for life's existence (nowhere near a star), this team of scientists has ruled out 70% of the space already left.

But that's not all. To further focus our research efforts (but reduce the areas for life), two more (non-location) habitable zones exist: the planet's rotation rate and obliquity. Each of these affect the other five zones in different ways, so while one zone may be widened or move closer to the star, another may be narrowed or move further from the star. When the planet's rotation rate and obliquity are taken into account as well, the actual area where a planet may exist and support life becomes even smaller or disappears completely for even more stars.

An Ancient Universe and Evidence for Design

As research continues, the history of our planet is becoming more of a problem for anyone who thinks that life is ubiquitous in the universe. Not only that, the more research continues, the more the history of our planet resembles a complicated project executed for a purpose- a project that includes numerous phases with numerous concurrent and necessary events that, if not started and finished at the proper time, would doom the project to failure. The longer the history of our planet, the longer the project and the more of these complicated phases there are. While many people think that an ancient universe provides naturalists a legitimate reason to deny the need for a Designer, the evidence provided by this ancient universe is revealing the exact opposite: that a Designer is necessary to explain why our planet and its history appear to be designed. The ancient universe is quickly becoming an unstoppable evidential force, declaring the glory of its Creator (Psalm 19:1) and leaving educated unbelievers with even less excuse for rejection (Romans 1).

Dr. Hugh Ross has also posted on this discovery: Inability of Planets Orbiting Red Dwarfs

To Go Deeper, I Recommend These Books:

Charlie Gard- A Battle For Life Has Been Lost, But That is Not the End

It is a sad and heart-wrenching day for Charlie Gard, his parents, and humanity. If you've been following my blog for the last few weeks, you know that I've been following Charlie's fight for the chance to live (here and here). When he was born eleven months ago, we was diagnosed with a rare mitochondrial disease that left him unable to move or breathe on his own. In the last couple months, the hospital treating him in the United Kingdom decided to cut life-support because there was nothing they could do, but the parents wanted to transport him to the United States for an experimental treatment. The saga played out in the United Kingdom court system with the judge agreeing with the doctors. Several foreign doctors and hospitals offered to transport and treat Charlie free of cost, but the request was denied by the court. After an international outcry, the judge finally ordered an MRI scan on Charlie to determine the feasibility of success with the experimental treatment. The US doctor evaluating the scan announced yesterday that the "window of opportunity" for a greater than 10% chance of success had been missed. This caused Charlie's parents to lose all hope and finally give up their fight for their son's life, and they will be spending his last days with at his bedside.

I cannot help but see that the reason the window of opportunity was missed is because the doctors and judge were so bent on seeing Charlie's death that they intentionally stalled any and all treatment and tests. This window could have been discovered and action taken within it had the doctors not resisted the choice of the parents with the power of the government behind them. The doctors at that hospital could have avoided the whole moral and legal battle and emotional pain of the parents (and the world) had they allowed their international peers to do what they solemnly sore to do (protect the life of their patients- see the Hyppocratic Oath). In that refusal, these doctors violated the Hyppocratic Oath, themselves. But they have not only violated an oath to the medical community and to the public, but they have violated the Image of God. In refusing to recognize the intrinsic worth of their patient, they saw him as expendable and not worth the cost of the resources it would require to save him. This is the result of such a denial. In a medical world that is devoid of the understanding of intrinsic human worth, every patient will enter a facility with a dead line and a price tag; if either are exceeded, the project (patient) will be scrapped.

As Americans, who enjoy freedom based upon our intrinsic worth "endowed by our Creator," we must do all that we can to prevent such a medical world from crossing the Atlantic. As Christians, we need to be there for Charlie's parents to support them in every way we possibly can for the rest of their lives. This is a wound that will not heal with time. This is an evil that cuts to the very heart of what it means to be human. Charlie's parents know this, and they have sworn that they will do all that they can to prevent other parents from having to experience such horrendous pain at the hands of those who are supposed to protect them (physicians and the government). As the Church, we need to support them. We need to see that Charlie and his parents have not suffered needlessly at the hands of evil men. We need to protect the Image of God; we need to defend life.

What men intended for evil, God intended for good (Genesis 50:20). We are created in God's Image, so we can do the same. Let us choose to turn this evil on its head, and show the world the love and hope of Christ and the reasons we have them (1 Peter 3:15), so that this finite suffering cannot compare to the infinite glory that will be revealed through eternal life (Romans 8:18). This particular battle for a life may have been lost, but the war for eternal life through Jesus Christ will be won.

Let us support Charlie's parents and defend life:

Apple CEO Tim Cook on Purpose and Ethics in Technology


For MIT's (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) 2017 graduation, Apple Computers' CEO Tim Cook was asked to give the commencement speech. As a fellow information technologist, I wanted to see what he would say to the next generation of technological engineers. He provided an inspiring speech that encouraged the graduating students to pursue a career in technology because technology can serve the higher purpose of humanity. You can watch the full speech on YouTube.

Tim Cook's Speech

Cook began with this: "When you work towards something greater than yourself, you find meaning; you find purpose." He said that he had searched for a higher purpose in his life; he tried many things, including religion. He then spoke of the value and importance of humanity and how technology is improving life. He told a story of one of his Apple shareholders' meetings where he explained to one shareholder that his company's focus was not necessarily on the ROI (return on investment) of a technology but that its focus was "the right thing to do." He also stated that while some people fear artificial intelligence's becoming more human-like, his concern was the humanity's thinking was becoming more machine-like: devoid of values, compassion, and concern for consequences. He concluded with "There is so much on the internet to make you cynical...do not get caught up in the trivial things of life...stay focused on what really matters."

In the speech, Cook made sure to mention the importance of the humanities to the science and math graduates. I am glad that Cook values the humanities. I value them as well, including philosophy. Unfortunately, several philosophical problems arise when the claims in his speech are investigated more deeply. I would like to make the point that his comments about Apple's disregarding the ROI of technologies make it clear that he is not making subjective (opinion) claims, rather he is making claims that are objectively true for everyone- they are true whether anyone believes them or not. He believes that his and his company's valuing of ROI over human life would be objectively wrong. In order for any of his claims to be objectively true and have any meaning outside of the individual, the different claims must all have a grounding in reality, but he mentioned at the beginning of his speech that he rejected the only source for such grounding. Let's see what the implications of such rejection are.

Book Review: Inference to the One True God


Fellow Christian apologetics blogger Evan Minton (Cerebral Faith) contacted me not too long ago about a book that he was writing on his investigation into the truth of Christianity. I have enjoyed his past work on his blog and his discussions on social media, so I was excited to hear that he was officially publishing a book and could not wait to see the final product. Evan sent me a copy of "Inference to the One True God: Why I Believe In Jesus Instead of Other Gods" for review. The book is 200 pages divided into eight chapters, each one designed to get the reader one step closer to the identity of the One True God. This review will be a chapter by chapter summary and conclude with my recommendation.

Charlie Gard and Purpose in Suffering

The World Watches Charlie Gard

With the international attention received by baby Charlie Gard in the United Kingdom (including my post from last week), good news has been received: the judge has granted a hearing of new evidence about experimental treatment available in the United States, claims that Charlie is not, in fact, suffering pain, and that damage to his brain caused by a rare mitochondrial disease is not permanent. The hearing began yesterday, and the judge is waiting for more information before a new decision is reached. Here is the latest from Life Site News: https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/charlie-gards-day-in-court

UPDATE: https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/breaking-american-doctor-will-examine-charlie-gard-on-monday

While the world awaits the updated decision, conversations are still taking place in the public square about the value of human life and the role of "quality of life" in medical decisions (even among Christians). My post from last week received a series of concerns that are commonly raised with those who have defended human life in these situations. I will quote the concerns and provide a response to help equip you, the reader, to think clearly and logically and respond with comfort and love regarding such issues.

I want to preface this with the fact that the person raising the concerns was a Christian who is also struggling through how to properly respond and act within the Christian worldview. All concerns in such emotional cases need to be understood in the context that we are not merely talking about ideas but lives, humans created in the Image of God, who may be struggling themselves with the pain of the (potential) loss of a friend or family member, such as baby Charlie. These concerns should not necessarily be seen as challenges to put the defender of life on the defensive but rather in the position of a comforter who God has put in this position to help guide in this painful time. We are the Body of Christ- God's "hands and feet" in this world , so we are called to minister to the broken in heart and in mind. With that in mind, let's look at these concerns.

God, Patience, and Creation


One of the challenges skeptics raise against God as the Creator is the idea that He took entirely too long to create: God is inefficient and wasteful with time, if He did, indeed, take 13+ billion years to create the universe. Why did God take so long to create the universe when He could have created it in just a few days or even a couple microseconds? This challenge is necessarily dependent upon the idea that God has absolutely no possible reason for spending 13+ billion years to create. Thus, if it can be shown that God did have a reason for taking the time that He did, then the challenge is defeated. My goal in this post is to not only defeat the challenge, but to show that there is an answer that is not just possible but is more likely than not within the Christian worldview.

Hobby Lobby, Archaeological Artifacts, and Contradiction

I noticed this story going around on social media this morning and wanted to offer a quick comment. It appears that a settlement has been reached between the owners of Hobby Lobby and the government regarding the unlawful acquisition of archaeological artifacts for their Museum of the Bible. They have agreed to forfeit the artifacts and put in place policies and procedures to ensure that such illegal acquisitions do not take place in the future. You may read the story here and here.

In our zeal to defend and preserve the Bible, Christians must ensure that their methods are both moral and legal. I do not know if the Hobby Lobby owners knowingly acted illegally or not (my understanding is that there is much evidence to suggest intended smuggling), but they definitely needed to do more research and take extra steps to ensure moral and legal acquisition of the artifacts. If the Museum of the Bible is to stand as a testament to the reliable transmission of the Bible through the ages, it cannot stand due to a violation of the morals taught within the Bible's pages.

I'm glad to see Hobby Lobby take steps to improve their methods and reduce possibility of legal violations with future acquisitions. Let's pray that the owners will learn from this experience and will act in wisdom going forward to complete their project.

This needs to be a lesson for all Christians, especially those involved in representing Christ in a very public way (all parachurch ministries fall into this category). We need to ensure that our scholarship and execution of projects are conducted with the highest level of honesty and legality (intellectual and financial). I like how Ravi Zacharias articulated the potential problem:

Quote from "The Grand Weaver" by Ravi Zacharias- "The moral law also serves as a profound reminder that in God there is no contradiction. The moral law stands as a consistent, contradiction-free expression of God's character. if I violate this law, I bring contradiction into my own life, and my life begins to fall apart."

If we do not conduct our ministries with the highest level of moral character, then we run the risks of allowing contradiction to enter our lives and being identified as hypocrites. Intelligent people know that the correct worldview cannot contain contradictions, and if we present our worldview as contradictory, we provide them with a reason to reject our worldview as true. We must make the conscious choice to represent Christ with the highest level of honesty, so "they may see our good works and glorify our Father, who is in heaven." (Matt 5:16b)

For further investigation into the ethical topics covered here check out these deeper posts:

Book Review: Genesis, Science, and the Beginning


Those who follow Faithful Thinkers know that one of my favorite topics is science and the Bible. A while back, Christian apologist Ben Smith asked me to take a look at his book that addresses one of the many proposed ways to reconcile the claims of Genesis 1 with the scientific evidence. The book, "Genesis, Science, and the Beginning," defends the Prophetic Days View of interpreting Genesis 1. I was excited to read the book since it supports a view different from mine (the Day-Age View, defended by Reasons to Believe) and would, no doubt, provide another alternative if a particular part of the Day-Age view was a stumbling block for a skeptic coming to Christ. I also looked forward to challenges to my view coming from a fellow apologist who takes the Bible seriously. So, how did he do? This review is designed, as my usual reviews, to be a summary of the contents of the book (not necessarily critical, though), and I will end it with my thoughts and recommendations.

The Court-Ordered Death of a Child

UPDATE (7/7/17)- A new hearing has been scheduled. See a quick alert here.

Original Article:

As a parent, can you imagine being in a situation where you trust a doctor to save your child's life but he betrays that trust and seeks legal permission to kill your child instead? That is the stuff of any parent's worst nightmare, yet it is the reality of Chris Gard' and Connie Yates' recent experience. 

Eleven months ago Charlie Gard was born to the couple in London. Doctors quickly discovered that the newborn's brain was malformed, and he could not breathe on his own. These issues were caused by a rare genetic condition that the hospital has been treating Charlie for since his birth. The doctors recently concluded that no further treatment could be given to the Charlie without causing "significant harm," and their solution was to seek a court order granting them permission to end Charlie's life by denying all life support. The court did the unthinkable by granting the request. The devastated parents requested that instead of killing their baby boy, that they be permitted to have their son transported to the United States to undergo an experimental treatment that offered some hope. To make the situation worse, the court denied their request, so life support will be removed and Charlie's life will be taken by the very people trusted to save it. The full story may be found here.

As a parent, I cannot imagine the agony this couple is being forced to endure. Even merely thinking of such a nightmare coming true causes emotions to run wild: sorrow, anguish, anger, confusion. But these emotions are not merely feelings with no grounding in reality; these emotions are triggered by an innate understanding that violations of reality are taking place. What are those violations that spur such emotions?

Intrinsic human value is violated- Humans have intrinsic value, regardless of the level of development. Intrinsically valuable lives must be protected, also, regardless of the level of development. 

Logic is violated- Just because the single medical facility does not have the resources to continue treatment does not mean that all other medical facilities lack the resources to continue treatment. The parents know of a facility in the US that could continue treatment, and they informed the court and explicitly requested they be allowed to transport their son. That is a most reasonable and logical request. The denial of the parent's request was based on the logical fallacy of hasty generalization. The court's ruling on the parents' request was unreasonable and illogical. 

Ethics (Hypocratic oath) are violated- "I will not be ashamed to say "I know not," nor will I fail to call in my colleagues when the skills of another are needed for a patient's recovery...I will prevent disease whenever I can but I will always look for a path to a cure for all diseases." I do not know if the doctors involved took the Hypocratic oath (or any modern version), but if they did, they are in clear violation of, at least, these two lines.

Trust is violated- If we trust doctors to do everything they can then refer to someone else once their resources are exhausted (based upon the three previous points), yet they violate that trust by instead seeking a court order to end the life of their patients, on what logical basis should we trust these doctors? Even if the doctors treating Charlie did not know of the experimental treatment at the time the order was requested, the moment they discovered it, they should have dropped their court request and sought resources to get Charlie to the new facility as soon as possible. 

In order to not seek a different solution for Charlie (namely a different treatment), a denial of these violations is necessary. And there is only one way to deny that all these have been violated: to deny that they are features of reality, and to accomplish that one must deny the existence of God. 

The United States of America was founded to escape this over-reaching of the government into our lives. In America we have enjoyed the benefits of a government that recognizes that people are created in the Image of their Creator, with certain unalienable rights. If we do not stand up and defend the truth of Christianity in the marketing place of ideas, this is what we can expect to come to become our reality, our kids' reality, our grandkids' reality; we and they can expect to lose the right to live at all. We will live in a world without reason, without trust, without life, and without God.

If you would like to go deeper into this and prepare yourself to defend our God-given rights, check out these more in depth posts and books: